Posts by: Katie O'Brien

Exclamation Points Are Feminist!

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Friendly emails are a sign of progress, not weakness, in our working lives.

Policing women’s use of language is over (we wish). But at the Huffington Post, Angelina Chapin argues that women’s use of exclamation marks in the workplace represents a subversion of masculinist notions about leadership.

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The Editing of Anne Frank’s Diary Was Sexist

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There’s something very unsettling about the idea of editing someone’s personal and autobiographical journal. After all, it’s supposed to be a portal into the past: Anne’s experience in the annex, exactly what happened exactly as it happened.

At The Establishment, Stephanie Watson makes the case for buying only the unabridged version of Anne Frank’s Diary—the version we’re all familiar with was sanitized of all passages about her sexuality and other gender-specific topics.

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A “Girl” and Her Mother

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At The Millions, Naa Baako Ako-Adjei discusses reading Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” through the lens of her relationship with her own mother growing up, and her new understanding of the story fifteen years later:

In my rereading of “Girl,” I also realized that I never noticed how transgressive the story is.

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Lois Lowry on Lord of the Flies

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Lois Lowry takes to the New York Times with her story of reading Lord of the Flies for the first time at age sixteen, and how her perspective on its portrayal of children and violence has (and hasn’t) changed in the book’s six decades since publication:

Today’s young readers, inundated as they have been recently by violent apocalyptic books, probably cannot imagine the effect William Golding’s novel had on the innocent and introspective girl that I was then.

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What Elena Ferrante and Kim Kardashian Have in Common

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While the outing of Elena Ferrante and the robbing of Kim Kardashian were not inherently gendered acts, the responses to them certainly have been. In light of these two seemingly divergent issues, the New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino meditates on the framing of female ambition in the media, and what happens “when women signify too much”:

…the problem is not so much about what happens to women after they become established and successful.

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Zoë Ruiz in Conversation with Micah Perks

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Don’t miss this interview at The Believer between former Rumpus Managing Editor Zoë Ruiz and contributor Micah Perks on Perks’s new novel, What Becomes Us—a story told from the point of view of twin fetuses inside the main character. Topics discussed include the book’s themes of “nice girls,” hunger, and the desire to feed oneself, as well as the publishing process.

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The Handmaid’s (Cautionary) Tale

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At The Establishment, Laura Beans discusses the importance of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale as a predictive novel, drawing many connections between the novel and increasing attempts to control women’s bodies:

Instead of seeming further from the truth, the novel’s warnings only seem to echo louder in recent years.

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The Past and Present of Banned Books

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‘Banned books’ sounds like a thing of the past. But over at Lit Hub, Amy Brady details the ways that the fight against censorship continues in libraries and schools today:

If school administrators are attempting to limit even elective reading, what does the future hold for students who want access to all books, classic and contemporary—books that might broaden their understanding of the world?

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Writing = Work = Job

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Settling the debate about whether “writer” is job that arose with Merritt Tierce’s Marie Claire essay about going broke post-debut novel, and a response piece by Ester Bloom at The Billfold calling writing a hobby, Lincoln Michel finds a middle ground between the two stances, arguing at Electric Literature that yes, writing should be considered a job—and the attitude that it isn’t encourages exploitation.

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The End of the Road

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At The Establishment, Anne Theriault recounts driving out West to see the house of her childhood heroine Laura Ingalls, and what it taught her about the horrific underpinnings of the American Dream:

And then we passed a mural with a confederate flag and I felt that hot prickle of shame and fear—fear because of what the flag means and shame because of how cluelessly white it is to be able to walk around rural Missouri and smile blithely at everyone and never once think about the color of my skin… Which is not really so different, after all, from being able to read through the Little House books and ignore the genocidal foundation Laura’s adventures are built on.

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Not Enough Buzz to Go Around

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At Lit Hub, Ilana Masad outlines the importance of publicists in generating buzz for new books in a social media saturated-environment, and the struggle many authors face to generate their own publicity at small presses without the resources to do more:

The difference between being published with a “Big 5” publisher versus a small or independent press is not necessarily how much work the writers have to do, but how much that work gets noticed.

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Woman’s Best Friend

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At The Establishment, Laura Bogart writes a heartwarming ode to her the special type of love that exists only between human and canine—the kind of love she says she’s always been searching for:

Together, we built a life from endless repetitions of “sit, stay, come, good”; from my coaching her into a calmer, more confident dog (and me into a calmer, more confident guardian); from taking our dinners together in front of the TV, with me armchair quarterbacking political candidates and sitcom characters alike, and her harrumphing from her dog bed; and from taking those long walks where we fell into that easy stride, her head at my hip.

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Handling Rejection from the Other Side

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I never heard editors talk about how disturbed and insecure writers might become as a result of relentless rejection, living every day with what James Salter called “the feeling of injustice.” It was more fun for editors to characterize their jobs as overseeing petting zoos full of needy misfits and narcissists, a point of view that was always amusing to other editors but infuriating to writers.

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Keep Minor Characters Minor

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At the Guardian, Charlotte Jones takes issue with the recently announced Pride and Prejudice sequel fleshing out the life of Mary Bennett—a character whose neglect is central to Austin’s plot:

The singularity of Elizabeth Bennett, after all – the reason she so often features in lists of our favourite literary characters – relies solely upon the relief cast by her dull sisters.

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Written in Ink

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In a powerful essay at The Establishment, Evelyn Deshane discusses rejecting the medical narrative around transitioning, and how tattoos allowed them to reclaim their own body:

When the physicality of my gender—that “place” that could be home—feels out of reach, tattoos are my way to be present in my body, and to control what happens to it.

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Anti-Blackness in Sci-Fi Publishing

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Less than two percent of science fiction stories published in 2015 were by black writers. And a recent study found that black speculative fiction writers face “universal” racism—more damning evidence demonstrating the institutionalized racism in book publishing, and the importance of introducing more diversity at every level of the process.

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